Calculating the Green in Green: What’s an Urban Tree Worth?



Dollars and Cents

“Neighborhood and yard tGail wells (120p) - science writerrees are not market commodities, so there is no simple, agreed-upon basis for calculating their value, comparing it to that of other urban-planning priorities such as keeping development costs low, or weighing benefits of trees against their costs,” writes Gail Wells in a feature article published in Greenhouse Management & Production.

Recent Research Studies

New research from the Pacific Northwest Research Station demonstrates that street trees increase home prices in Portland, Oregon, that shade trees reduce household energy use in Sacramento, California, and that these effects can be measured and expressed in dollars:

  • A study led by economist Geoffrey Donovan, research forester, determined that trees planted on the south and west sides of Sacramento houses reduced summertime electricity bills by an average of $US25.16.
  • In a second study in Portland, Donovan’s team found that street trees growing in front of or near a house added an average $US8,870 to its sale price and reduced its time on the market by nearly 2 days.
  • These economic benefits spilled over to neighboring properties: a neighborhood tree growing along the public right-ofway added an average of $US12,828 to the combined value of all the houses within 100 feet.

“This research is important to city governments, communities and environmental organizations because it helps them make a case for publicly funded “green infrastructure,” that supports many environmental and social amenities,” concludes Gail Wells, a science writer based in Corvallis, Oregon.

To Learn More:

To read the complete article, click on Calculating the Green in Green to download a PDF copy.

To read the entire analysis of the research by Gail Wells as published in the September issue of Pacific Northwest Research Station’s Science Findings, click on

Street trees

Posted December 2010